[Whitepaper] The Mid-Year E-Commerce Outlook for SMB Retailers
The urgency with which brands are adapting to omnichannel digital commerce reflects the fact that not only are they facing competition across the spectrum of brands large and small, their customers too are increasingly demanding a high standard of cross channel integration. Digital transformation is at the forefront of retailer's efforts in 2016, quite simply because it cannot be ignored.
Every year, the eTail team surveys its audience to learn about the tools and technologies they're implementing, the goals they're chasing, and the results they're seeing. Concentrating on small to medium business retailers with annual revenues below $100 million, this report analyzes how brands are seeing success with content-based marketing, omnichannel capabilities, and new marketing techniques.
As the market penetration of smart phones continues to increase, and retail giants such as Amazon continue to raise the bar around convenience, customer retention, and fulfillment, these rising tides are forcing every retailer to lift the standards of their technology and customer service. While several years ago the website may have served as a standalone digital presence for a retailer, in 2016 it’s simply one of the larger touchstones of an omnichannel customer experience that has come to be fully expected by the consumer.
SMBs occupy a special niche within the larger retail environment; small enough to nimbly adapt to new technologies and market pressures, yet with high enough earnings to be able to experiment with some truly cutting edge technologies. In 2016, SMBs are seeking to further adapt the way they operate to suit the omnichannel paradigm, with pressure coming from major retailers and pure plays which have aggressively expanded their fulfillment capabilities and built out their customer experiences over the past several years.
Like other retailers, SMBs still rely heavily on email for both customer acquisition and retention, and paid and organic search are also major priorities. For SMBs, building a customer base and keeping them coming back are key goals, necessitating a smart SEO and email strategy as the foundation of a sales funnel. Increasingly, social media is being recognized as another key retention channel, while efforts to explore mobile and integrate brick and mortar locations into digital strategy are underway within a more technology-forward subset.
The importance of the website in a SMB retail strategy as a key touch point for gathering customer insights is reflected in the desire to drive more traffic, and use the data gained to enable further insight driven programs. As the flagship digital presence for most SMBs, the website serves as a primary source of customer information – information that can be used to optimize interactions both online and in-store. For SMBs, the establishment of a strong digital presence begins with email and the website, but sets the stage for so much more. Building on a solid digital framework is the theme for SMBs seeking to grow their mastery in 2016.